SHARING IS CARING
Hysterectomy Types: Choices and Decisions
A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus, otherwise known as the womb. Rarely is a hysterectomy an emergency surgery. There is usually considerable time to research and explore options for discussions with your personal surgeon.
Ask These Questions
If you have been told you need a hysterectomy and you have explored the alternative treatments for your diagnosis, you have more questions to ask!
Am I a candidate for a minimally invasive surgery?
If your doctor does not have the level of experience with minimally invasive surgeries to offer to you for your choices, it is important to seek the opinion of a GYN surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive options.
Ask these questions:
- 1. How many surgeries like this for my diagnosis do you perform each year?
- 2. What percent are abdominal surgeries?
- 3. What percent are minimally invasive surgeries? (vaginal, laparoscopic) If your doctor only performs a few laparoscopic surgeries per year, you should consider a more experienced and qualified surgeon.
- 4. Would you recommend a laparoscopic surgery for me? Note: If the answer is "no," ask why not?
- 5. What is your conversion rate from laparoscopy to abdominal incision? A conversion is where the doctor begins a laparoscopic surgery but decides to change to a more invasive abdominal surgery. The number should be less than 5 percent.
- 6. What is your complication rate? Major complications should be under 5 percent.
In order to explore all your options, it is important to discuss your surgery options with an experienced GYN surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive options to better understand if you are a candidate. Most women are candidates for less invasive options. Find a specialized surgeon!
Making Your Choice
There are several ways a hysterectomy may be performed. Sometimes these choices are not available to all patients for various medical reasons, body mass index (BMI), your diagnosis, size of the uterus, expertise of your surgeon or some other factor. Discuss with your surgeon your options and always consider exploring other options with other surgeons for a second opinion. One surgeon may tell you that you are not a candidate for a less-invasive procedure but another may find you are an excellent candidate. It's time to research!
A hysterectomy removes the entire uterus including the cervix. A partial hysterectomy leaves the cervix. Removal of the ovaries and removal of fallopian tubes may be included in the procedure.
Take a notepad with you to each doctor appointment. Write down your questions. Write down your doctor's responses. You may need to refer to your notes later. The HysterSisters, also, suggest taking a friend or spouse with you to your appointments to help you "hear" and remember!
A hysterectomy may be performed entirely through an abdominal incision. Read more about the abdominal hysterectomy.
A hysterectomy may be performed entirely through the vagina. Read more about the vaginal hysterectomy.
A hysterectomy may also be performed with a laparoscope. Read more about Laparoscopic Hysterectomy.
A hysterectomy may be performed through a single incision - through the belly button called SILS or LESS hysterectomy.
And a hysterectomy may be performed with a robot-assisted laparoscope called a daVinci hysterectomy.
Your hysterectomy could include morcellation.
Read more about the removal of ovaries and fallopian tubes here.
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Get a Second Opinion
HysterSisters recommends that you get more than one opinion when your doctor suggests a hysterectomy. You may have a trustful long-standing history with your doctor and feel horrified that we suggest such a thing! This isn't a slap in the face for your personal physician but a smart thing for every patient to do.
Set up an appointment with a different surgeon in a different practice and even perhaps in a different town. Take your records with you but also ask for an exam. Ask if the first recommendation is appropriate. Ask for alternative suggestions.
Get a third opinion. You might find the third suggests an even less invasive solution or an alternative treatment to completely avoid surgery.
The key is for you, the patient, to get all the information you can before you agree to surgery. You cannot change your mind once the surgery is done. There are no money back guarantees if the surgery is not the cure for your problem. Be smart. Do your homework.
Give Me a Second
This message is important for all women who are considering a hysterectomy. We must encourage women to build partnerships with their physicians, and the best way to do this is to ask questions.
Three important things can happen when we get a "second:"
1. We get more information.
2. We may gain a new perspective.
3. We will gain peace of mind.
We've been taught well - to sit up straight, to pay close attention, to be good, to say "please" and "thank you." Give Me a Second encourages persistence. We do need to be engaged with our health decisions. And in the doctor's office, we can be polite - and still ask the right questions for our own benefit.
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More Hysterectomy Alternative Resources
Check out these resources to help you make your decisions for surgery. Don't forget our best resource - our Hysterectomy Options discussion forum where thousands of HysterSisters participate daily! AND - Don't forget to ask your doctor for additional resources.
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